Though the season is over, it was still a busy week for the Wisconsin hockey team. Three players have signed deals this week to continue their careers in professional hockey.
Senior forward Michael Mersch penned an entry-level three-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings. The Park Ridge, Ill. native was selected in the fourth round by the Kings in the 2011 NHL Draft. Mersch initially declined signing after his junior year in order to finish out his four-year stint with Wisconsin.
“We’re real excited,” Nelson Emerson of Los Angeles Kings Player Development said to LA Kings Insider earlier this week. “He went back for his senior year, and he kind of lived up to what we had hoped would happen, that he would have a successful season.”
The 6-foot-1 Hobey Baker candidate tied for first in goal scoring during the inaugural Big Ten season. He also led the conference with 10 power play goals, was named first-team All Big Ten and led the Badgers to capture their first Big Ten championship last month in St. Paul, Minn.
Mersch’s career totals in Wisconsin amount to 120 points in 157 games. His big frame and smooth puck handling ability could be exactly what a team like the Kings need, after notoriously struggling to provide a stable offense over the past few seasons.
Mersch will report to Los Angeles’ minor league affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs, to finish out the remainder of the season.
Senior forward Tyler Barnes agreed to an amateur tryout offer Tuesday with the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League. The Rampage serve as the prime minor-league affiliate for the NHL’s Florida Panthers.
The Eagan, Minn., native accumulated 45 goals and 56 assists during his time as a Badger. This season he was fourth on the team with 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) and joined Wisconsin’s “100 club” after reaching 100 points during the Big Ten Championship game against Ohio State.
Prior to joining the Badgers in 2010, Barnes played for the USHL’s Waterloo Blackhawks. There, he tallied 45 goals and 51 assists over the course of three games.
Junior defenseman Jake McCabe is headed directly to the Buffalo Sabres as of Wednesday, choosing to forgo his final season of NCAA eligibility in Madison.
Also a Hobey Baker candidate, McCabe was selected by the Sabres in the second round of the 2012 NHL draft, 48th overall. Per the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, McCabe will be signed to a three-year deal in Buffalo.
Most would consider McCabe one of the core members of Wisconsin’s hockey team this year. He had a career-high eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points, good for fourth-best among defenseman in the Big Ten. In addition to being nominated for hockey’s most prestigious award, he was also named first-team All-Big Ten.
In 2013 McCabe served as the captain for the IIHF World Junior Championship team in Russia, where he led Team USA to the gold medal.
The Eau Claire, Wis., native is expected to play Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues.